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Transition Lab Forum 5: Climate investment requires new ways of working together

New ways of collaborating, thinking and investing were widely discussed during the Viable Cities Transition Lab Forum 5 on March 24. The theme of the conference - investment plans for climate-neutral cities - was explored from different perspectives with representatives from finance, academia, government agencies and, of course, from the host cities of Lund and Malmö. 

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Allan Larsson, Viable Cities Chairman, began with a review of the program's achievements in recent years, which have laid the foundation for further work to accelerate cities' climate transition.
- "The 2020s will be a time of big breakthroughs, big investments and big changes," he said. And the input from the participants in the afternoon reinforced that statement.

Jonas Kamleh, environmental strategist from the City of Malmö, spoke about how they are mobilizing business and other actors to accelerate the pace of Malmö's climate transition. Jon Andersson, Head of Sustainability at Lund Municipality, led a virtual study visit to Lund together with actor Johan Wester. We were taken on a journey from ESS to Lund Central Station and on the way we stopped in Lund's new district Brunnshög, which with ambitious climate and sustainability goals will help catalyze the transition in Lund.

Many of the participants, including Robert Andrén, Director-General of the Swedish Energy Agency, and Annika Bergendahl, Area Manager of Vinnova, spoke about the importance of stopping working in silos at all levels of society and taking a broader approach to finding new ways of working that speed up the climate transition.
- "We need to look at the whole picture and get to the bottom of the rules that hinder the climate transition," said Gunilla Nordlöf, Director-General of the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth.

Several participants from the banking and finance world spoke of an ongoing transition in the industry.
- "There is a paradigm shift, at least in Europe, where the sustainability aspect has been added to the analysis of risk and return that we do," said Mats Olausson, senior advisor at SEB.
Liisa Rasakka from the European Investment Bank (EIB) - which is now undergoing a major restructuring to become Europe's climate bank - highlighted the new opportunities for climate investment in cities that come with the EU Green Deal, with the goal of creating a climate-neutral continent by 2050.
- "It opens up investments in the circular economy, biodiversity and in green and blue infrastructure," she said.

So what are the barriers to climate investments? Robert Westerdahl, Material Economics, pointed out that the gains or benefits from an investment often do not reach the investor. To remedy this, he believes in greater partnerships and collaboration. He gave a practical example: a healthcare organization is sponsoring a switch to electric buses because they provide better air quality and therefore better health and less need for medical care.

Julio Lumbreras from the EU Mission board on climate neutral cities also believes that collaboration between all stakeholders is necessary.
- "If you want to change a city, you have to stop thinking in terms of individual projects or actions, you have to connect and gather the efforts in one direction.
He was also asked to review the Viable Cities initiative Climate City Contract 2030.
- "It's a great first step, but you can always do more. The contracts need to be both bolder and contain more concrete commitments.
Anders Wijkman, Chairman Climate-KIC, also thinks that Climate City Contract 2030 is important.
- "It makes the cities' approach systematic, and I think the Climate Contract can become a general method for climate work.

This spring, the nine cities in the Climate Neutral Cities 2030 initiative and other stakeholders in the program will continue working on climate investment plans as part of the implementation of the Climate City Contract signed by the nine cities, four government agencies and the Viable Cities program.
- "We work together on common challenges, and we are inspired by each other's successes, which is what Viable Cities is all about," says Olga Kordas, Viable Cities Program Manager.

The next Transition Lab Forum will be held in early June and will focus on how mobility and transport need to be transformed to achieve climate-neutral, sustainable cities.


13.00 Welcome
Olga Kordas, Program Manager Viable Cities and Allan Larsson, Chairman of the Board Viable Cities

Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh (S), Chair of Malmö City Council
Philip Sandberg (L), Chairman of the Municipal Board Chairman Lund Municipality
13.15 Introduction to climate investments in cities
Jonas Kamleh, Environmental Strategist, City of Malmö
13.25 How Climate Neutral Lund 2030 works
Jon Andersson and Annette Henriksson, Lund Municipality, and Magnus Agerström, Cleantech Scandinavia

13.40 How Climate Neutral Malmö 2030 works
Jonas Kamleh, City of Malmö

14.00 Panel: What is needed to move forward?
Björn Bergstrand, Kommuninvest, Anders Wijkman, Climate KIC, Charlotta Möller, Viable Cities,

14.10 Virtual study visit in Lund
Jon Andersson
Johan Wester, Lund resident
14.25 Virtual study visit in Malmö
Nina Hellström, City of Malmö

14.35 What do cities' climate investments look like in practice?
Fedra Vanhuyse, Stockholm Environment Institute, and Robert Westerdahl, Material Economics
14.50 Panel: How do we mobilize the entire value chain for investments in climate neutral cities?
Gunilla Nordlöf, Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth; Robert Andrén, Swedish Energy Agency; Annika Bergendahl, Vinnova.
15.05 Panel: How do we mobilize the entire value chain for investments in climate-neutral cities?
Liisa RaaSakka, EIB Sweden; Mats Olausson, SEB; Philip Ajina, Infranode.
15.25 International outlook
Julio Lumbreras, European Mission board Climate-neutral and smart cities

15.40 Policy panel: Reflections on climate investments for climate-neutral cities
Camilla Neptune (L), Municipality of Lund, and Simon Chrisander (L), City of Malmö.
15.55 Insights and next steps
Olga Kordas, Viable Cities


At regular intervals, Viable Cities and its partners organize the Transition Lab Forum - a conference to inspire, share knowledge, learn and work together to bring about deep change and accelerate progress towards climate-neutral cities by 2030.